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Industry quiet on UK government's plans for infrastructure fund

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UK - A pledge by UK prime minister David Cameron that an infrastructure fund backed by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) would invest £2bn (€2.3bn) by the end of next year has been met with silence by the industry.

In a speech given yesterday, Cameron sought to highlight the opportunities for infrastructure investment in the country - including shedding further light on proposals to attract private capital to road maintenance and motorway construction projects.

The prime minister said the government needed to look "urgently" at attracting capital from a number of sources, including sovereign wealth funds and pension schemes, if it hoped to get a number of motorway expansions underway.

He added that the Treasury and Department for Transport would soon conduct a number of feasibility studies that would examine "new ownership and financing models", with toll roads "one option" being considered.

Addressing the Institute for Civil Engineering, he said: "We're also working with leading British pension funds so they can invest in solid infrastructure assets, as happens elsewhere in the world. And I can announce today that they will make the first wave of £2bn of investment by 2013."

The £2bn figure references preliminary plans by the NAPF and the PPF to launch the Pension Infrastructure Platform (PIP), under development after the organisations signed a memorandum of understanding with the Treasury last autumn.

However, asked if any firm investment commitments had been made to date, a spokesman at the NAPF said the situation remained unchanged since PPF chief executive Alan Rubenstein and his NAPF counterpart Joanne Segars discussed the matter at the NAPF investment conference.

At the time, Rubenstein only detailed plans for a commitment of £1bn from 10-12 funds, with an additional £1bn in assets potentially raised once the PIP was launched, currently targeted for January next year.

Speaking yesterday, Rubenstein underlined that no projects had so far been earmarked for investment.

"Once the platform has been launched, members will consider the specific projects they may want to invest in," he said.

Segars - who at the investment conference had highlighted the PIP's independence by insisting that a fee structure would be set by the NAPF and the PPF, not by the Treasury's UK Infrastructure - added that the platform would be "owned by pension funds for pension funds".

However, Rubenstein said he remained "confident" the PIP could result in as much as £4bn being invested in UK infrastructure projects.

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